Shokado Shojo (松花堂昭乗)

Shokado Shojo (1582-October 14, 1639) was a Buddhist priest of the Shingon sect and a cultural figure in the early Edo period. His secular name was Shikibu NAKANUMA. He was from Sakai City. Shojo is popularly believed to have been a son of Hidetsugu TOYOTOMI.

Shojo was proficient in calligraphy, painting and the tea ceremony, and was particularly famous as a good penman, who learned the calligraphy under Sakihisa KONOE, studied calligraphy of the Daishi-ryu and Teike-ryu schools, established a new school of calligraphy which was called Shokado-ryu school (or Takimoto-ryu school), and was, along with Nobutada KONOE and Koetsu HONAMI, given the honorary title of 'Three Brushes of the Kanei Era'
Incidentally, Shokado Shojo's name is famous for the Shokado bento (a thirty-centimeter-square lacquered box divided into four equal compartments containing an entire kaiseki ryori meal).


Shokado Shojo was born in Sakai, Settsu Province in 1582 according to the "Genealogical Table of the NAKANUMA Family." A theory that Shokado Shojo was born in 1584 derives from the "Shokado Gyojoki" (the journal of the general behavior of the Shokado family).

In 1593, Shojo served Nobutada KONOE. This is because Shojo's older brother (Sakyo NAKANUMA) served the head priest of Ichijo-in Monastery, Sonsei (the second younger brother of Nobutada KONOE).

Shojo entered the priesthood at Iwashimizu Hachimangu-Shrine in 1598, and studied esoteric Buddhism under Takimotobo Jitsujo. Later, Shojo studied under gon no sozu Hoben and received the Ryobu kanjo (consecration for the transmission of the Dharma), thereby being awarded the rank of ajari (a master in esoteric Buddhism; the highest of the hierarchy of priests).

When it was revealed in May, 1615, that Shojo had provided shelter to Sanraku KANO after the fall of Osaka-jo Castle and Shojo was thereby severely interrogated by the TOKUGAWA regime, Shojo asserted that Sanraku was an eshi (painter) but not a bushi (warrior), thus being freed safely.
"Honchogashi" (Japanese painting history and theory)

In between May and June, 1619, Shojo busied himself realizing a meeting of Yoshinao TOKUGAWA and Nobuhiro KONOE.
"Shojo shojo" (personal writings of Shojo)

In June, 1623, Shojo busied himself preparing for the visit of the TOKUGAWA shogun family to Kyoto, where Hidetada TOKUGAWA and his son Iemitsu TOKUGAWA entered Kyoto together (for the imperial designation of the new shogun Iemitsu).

In 1624, by Nobuhiro KONOE's recommendation, Shojo moved to Edo so as to be employed as calligraphic instructor of the Shogun family.

On August 2, 1626, Shojo held a tea gathering hosted by Yoshinao TOKUGAWA as sekishu (host) in an attempt to mediate between 'ko' (the Imperial Court) and 'bu' (the Tokugawa shogunate), where Shojo invited Masakazu KOBORI, Nobuhiro KONOE, Akiyoshi ICHIJO, Cloistered Imperial Prince Sonkaku of Ichijoin and Imperial Prince Hachijonomiya Toshihito.

After the death of Jitsujo on May 8, 1627, Shojo succeeded the post of jushoku (head priest) of Takimotobo Temple.

In July, 1628, in Daitokuji Ryukoin Mittan (teahouse of Ryukoin which is a branch temple of Daitoku-ji Temple), Shokado Shojo, Enshu KOBORI and Tanyu KANO finished a painting together for Kogetsu Sogan ('tokowaki kobusuma e' or a picture painted on the small sliding doors of a tokowaki cabinet). Enshu KOBORI built a teahouse which was named 'Kanunken' in Takimotobo Temple for Shojo.

In 1629, Shojo dedicated a waka (a traditional Japanese poem of thirty-one syllables) to Takuan Soho, lamenting his exile due to the Shie Incident (the great conflict between the shogunate and the Imperial Court).

Details of tea gatherings which were held during a period between 1631 and 1633 are described in "Shokado Chakaiki" (record of tea gatherings in the Shokado, Shojo's hut as a retirement cottage).

Somewhere in June, 1635, Shokado Shojo met Yoshinao TOKUGAWA.

In November, 1637, Takimotobo Temple was burnt down; taking this opportunity, Shojo handed over control of the temple to his disciple Jojun (son of Sakyo NAKANUMA who was Shojo's older brother), called himself "Shojo (or '猩々', a tipster sprite), and lived an elegant life. In December, Shojo built a hojo (hut) in the corner of his living house Senbo, and named it "Shokado" (Pine Flower Hall).
"Shojo ate Enshu shojo" (personal writings for Shokado Shojo by Enshu KOBORI) dated on December 16, and "Nagai Naokiyo ate Shojo shojo" (personal writings for Naokiyo NAGAI by Shokado Shojo) dated on December 23'

In March, 1638, Shojo traveled with Kogetsu Sogan for Nara to enjoy cherry blossoms in Yoshino region ("Shokado Yoshino Michinoki" or an account of Shokado's travel to Yoshino). On his way back, Shojo visited Toshiyo KUBO at Choando teahouse in Noda, Nara.

[Original Japanese]